Restaurant Review: Curry Leaf — Flavors of India (Las Vegas)
One of the great pleasures of being intensely passionate about different cuisines is trying out new experiences and visiting restaurants for the first time.
However, we were in no particular mood to seek out a new Indian restaurant. Why would we? Las Vegas has around a dozen decent lunch and dinner spots, which are all both serviceable and affordable. Trouble for those of us residing on west side of town is, virtually all the Indian restaurants are located near the Strip, or worse, way over on the east side of town. Hence, we don’t eat Indian food all too often — perhaps once a month, if that. Besides, although I do enjoy Indian food, it can be quite overwhelming and isn’t something I want to try too often.
A few weeks ago, Marieta and I were driving southward on Fort Apache past Tropicana in the southwest part of town, when we noticed a sign out in front, “Grand Opening.” The name of the restaurant was “Curry Leaf — Flavors of India.”
It’s hard to beat traditional India buffets at lunch when you’re really, really hungry. Typical buffets cost somewhere in the $12-15 range. That said, we were a bit surprised to enter Curry Leaf and see no buffet available. We decided to stay anyway, and order the lunch special. Thank goodness, we did.
The waiter informed us that they don’t do a buffet because all the dishes are made fresh, on the spot. I wasn’t sure why this would make much of a difference, but it did. Yes, there is a difference in taste.
Amazingly, the lunch specials cost only $10 and included a generous main dish, plus the traditional bread, called naan. Options are plain, butter, and garlic. Every other restaurant I’ve tried adds a surcharge for naan, but here’s it’s included in the $10 price. When it comes to value, the little things matter, and I was impressed with this inclusion (at lunch — dinner has the surcharge).
I’m no expert on Indian dishes. I normally order Chicken Tandori (which is cooked in the clay pot), or one of the popular curry-based dishes such as Tikka Masala or Korma. Marieta ordered a Lamb Korma, which was mouth watering. My Chicken Tikka Masala was ideal — perfectly spiced and seasoned without what I call “the burp factor.” Indian food can give indigestion if you’re not used to the intensity of flavors, but we found ourselves impressed with the clean aftertaste and no post-meal reaction to the spices. Again, normally this just goes with the territory when eating Indian cuisine. But there was no such aftereffect with the Curry Leaf dishes (on two visits). The bottom line was, this food just tasted better than other places which serve similar dishes. One could sense the ingredients were all fresher and it was prepared on the spot.
We were most impressed with the manner in which the dishes were served, in sparkling stainless steel containers, which not only appear pleasant but have the added utility of keeping the food warm for a longer period. Many Indian restaurants serve the rice accompaniment on open platters, which allows the rice to get cold instantly. Same with naan, often served in a basket. These warm containers really helped keep the food fresh and hot.
Service was exquisite on two occasions we visited. Navi was our host and server each time. He took particular care to make sure the experience was enjoyed. We were also informed the owner is the chef, so he takes great pride in the cuisine of his native country. The restaurant also allows tastings, if the food is available.
The value of lunch for two persons is almost embarrassingly affordable. We haven’t tried dinner yet, but certainly will. No doubt, the prices are a bit higher, but the portions are larger, also. The taste, I’m sure, is equally as delicious. The dinner menu also has a much more extensive variety of options than lunchtime. If you come for lunch, expect to order one of about 5 or 6 different meals, including a vegetarian dish (Indian cuisine tends to be popular with many vegetarians). There’s also a full bar, plus different varieties of Indian beer.
Curry Leaf was a pleasant surprise, and was shockingly great value. This restaurant should do well, as word of mouth spreads and more people become attuned to this wonderful cuisine, especially when it’s prepared with so much care. Then, there’s the added benefit of supporting a privately-owned small business, as opposed to a big chain restaurant, which we need to practice more often in our dining choices.
This is the best Indian meal we’ve had in Las Vegas. We anticipate many more visits, and hopefully you’ll give it a try, too. Curry Leaf is a clean, affordable, healthy, and unique lunch or dinner option for those who like a little spice and a terrific experience. I especially recommend it to someone who hasn’t tried Indian cuisine in the past but might be curious. The flavors are mild, but memorable. In fact, I can imagine the taste right now.
Time for our third visit to Curry Leaf. Quick, get the car keys. No need for a menu. I already know what I’m having.
Here’s the final bill for two people, which came to $25.40.